Heller 1/72 DC-6B Cloudmaster

KIT #: 80315
PRICE: €30 in 2005
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas


The Douglas DC-6 is a piston-powered airliner and cargo aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1946 to 1958. Originally intended as a military transport near the end of World War II, it was reworked after the war to compete with the Lockheed Constellation in the long-range commercial transport market.
It served the USAF as the C-118 Liftmaster and the USN as the R6D prior to 1962, after which all U.S. Navy variants were also designated as the C-118. More than 700 units of all versions were built and many still fly today in cargo, military, and wildfire control roles.


Heller introduced this big interesting kit in 1984 and has been regularly reboxing it ever since, not only as DC-6B, but also as C-118 Liftmaster and (with modified fuselage halves) as Securité Civile firefighter version. My copy was the 1985 DC-6B rebox under the Heller-Humbrol tag, bought in 2005 from one of my two beloved Athens hobby shops. It came wrapped in the usual big and very nice Heller top opening box, with a good looking finished model as a box art.

Upon opening the box, I was greeted with 22 white and 54 silver-gray styrene parts. The white parts are arranged in one big sprue and contain basically the fuselage halves, together with some smaller parts (the cockpit tub, its rear bulkhead, the nose leg and a few antennas).The silver-gray parts are arranged in three sprues: one big, containing the aerodynamic surfaces halves and two smaller identical ones which contain everything else (wheels, props, engine faces, cowlings, main legs and so on). Surprisingly, panel lines are recessed and quite well done. Molding is good with some flash here and there, with the surfaces exhibiting some slight pebble-ness that will likely disappear after some light sanding.

Cockpit includes floor (that doubles as nose wheel bay), rear bulkhead, instrument panel (onto which a decal is to be affixed), two good looking seats and equally good looking control columns. Given the not extensive glazing, I believe this average cockpit detail will look sufficient. No passenger interior is provided whatsoever, but, again, unless you want to cut-open the entry door, little will be visible through the small windows.

Engines are represented as merely faces with some molded on details, leaving quite some room for improvement there. Cowlings are provided as left/right halves and look good, as do the one piece props with separate hub covers. Landing gear bits also look acceptable and the same can be said for the wheels, which feature molded-on brake calipers at their inner sides - a nice touch. Wheel wells are not fully boxed and do not feature any detail: again, room for improvement there.

Clear parts are acceptable, with many of the passenger windows provided as rows, in order to make the builder’s life easier. Instructions are typical old style Heller, coming in the form of two big b/w printed A3 sheets stapled together. They contain a very brief history of the type, with the seemingly uncomplex construction spread in 10 clear and followable steps, with color callouts given where needed.

Two marking schemes are provided, for a Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) and a French Union de Transport Aériens (UTA) bird. The decal sheet is big and looks very nicely printed, only hoping that time has been kind to it, as it is almost 40 years old! All color callouts are only given in Humbrol codes, so, unless you are a Humbrol aficionado, you should have your conversion charts handy!

Instructions want you to first assemble the cockpit, then attach the nose landing gear under it, followed by assembly of the main landing gear and engines with props. Next is attachment of side window transparencies from the fuselage innards, followed by joining the fuselage halves with the cockpit trapped in between, together with some (unspecified) weight at the front. (Editor's note: This kit will need a LOT of weight to keep from tail sitting. After adding it, you will find that the nose gear will be unable to handle it. When I built mine way back when, I had to reinforce the strut with wire to prevent it from constantly snapping off.)

Assembly and attachment of wings and tail planes is next, followed by attachment of the main landing gear, the four engine/prop assemblies and the various doors and antennas, ending an apparently straightforward build.


This looks to be a good kit of this important plane with seemingly correct general shape. The average detailed cockpit and absolute lack of passenger interior are not too irritating, since little will be visible once the fuselage closes. On the other hand, the simplified engine faces and plain looking wheel wells will be quite visible and will definitely benefit from some super detailing. Panel lines are nicely engraved and the slight surface pebble-ness will not be too difficult to attend. Molding is good with little flash (at least in my “early” 1985 copy) and transparencies are also acceptable. Instructions are clear and decals are very well printed and look in good condition after almost 40 years. This solid and promising kit is still (as of 2022) the only game in town for a 1/72 Super Cloudmaster. It is regularly reissued and can be found at reasonable prices.

Happy modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

June 2022

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